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My New Favorite Place to Shop!



Eggplant and Bok Choy Tikka Masala Simmer

I live on Long Island and am not sure where most of this chain's stores are located, but if you are near one do yourself a favor and try shopping at ALDI. The first time I stepped into one of these stores was a few days ago and I can"t say enough good things. First, the prices are great, the selection is wonderful and they are "green". No bags, so bring your own. I found unique items at fantastic prices, My cart was full when I left the store but I still had money in my pocket.

This store has a German history and still goes by the same principles that it had when the business
was started in 1913. They believe that great quality shouldn't come at a high price, rather, great quality should come with everyday low prices. The no-frills shopping experience focuses on delivering high quality food items displayed in shipping boxes. Don't look for national brands here though, 90 percent of their items are sold under ALDI exclusive brands. All the ALDI brands are guaranteed and if you are not 100% satisfied, bring it back and they will replace the item AND refund your money.

There are ALDI locations throughout the United States and they even have some in other countries. So if you are lucky enough to be near one, check it out. It is definitely worth the trip.

While I was shopping at ALDI, I came across a Tikka Masala simmer sauce. For those of you that are not familiar with this it is basically a coconut and tomato based sauce with various spices. The spices are quite complex so I was excited to find this on the shelf. By the way they had other varieties that I will be sure to try in the future.

One of my recipes this week will include the simmer sauce but the main ingredient of this week's recipes is white rice. You may ask yourself why? The reason behind this is that everyone always has white rice either in their cupboard or leftover from Chinese takeout in their refrigerator. My idea is to show you how to throw together some quick. easy meals.

Meal 1

Spanish Rice

Leftover rice ( steam in pan with some water) if you don't have enough left, it is easy to make more depending on the desired amount of servings.
From this.....
...to this

And then add the following:

1 can of diced tomatoes with mild green chiles
1 medium onion
1 red and one green pepper diced
1 small can of tomato sauce
Sazon seasoning  (you can use pre-made or make your own (just google the recipe for it)
Other great additions are black beans and corn! you can even use this in the second recipe.




Meal 2



This is just as good in a wrap or a tortilla shell.



Rice (either leftover or make fresh
Lettuce (I used leftover salad)
Black beans
Sauteed vegetables of your choice (I used leftovers with peppers, broccoli and onions)
I topped mine with balsamic vinegar but salsa is great too
Sour cream and hot sauce is optional





This can be served two ways either in a wrap or a tortilla bowl. My friend has these great pans to make the bowls or you can buy them ready made in your supermarket.









Meal 3

1 jar of Tikka Masala simmer sauce
i can coconut milk
1 eggplant cubed
4 small baby bok choy sliced
1 medium onion sliced
Fresh cilantro to taste

I put everything in a pan and simmered until all the vegetables were tender and served on a bed of rice.
This not only looked and smelled amazing but was delicious.

Hope you try out these quick, easy meals and come up with a few variations of your own.



Would love to hear your thoughts and comments!


Until next time,

With Gratitude,

Trudy

Eating Healthy Meals at Chain Restaurants (Part 1)

(photos by Danielle)


A lot of people feel like transitioning to a healthier lifestyle will make it more difficult to be in situations like eating out. Going on to eat does not have to be difficult and there are so many articles and youtube videos showing you how to eat healthier/vegan/vegetarian when going to chain restaurants, even when there are not a lot of options. For a while, when I was going out to eat I was eating plant based at home, but struggled to stay that way when I went out. However, this does not have to be the case. You can still go out with friends and family and join in while still staying true to your morals and personal health goals. 

I will be naming some restaurants that I frequently go to and also tell you what I got along with some pictures. I will let you guys know how I navigate the menu when I go out to eat. First of all, I am unable to eat dairy to begin with and get very sick if I happen to have it. To combat this issue, many restaurants have an allergy menu on their website so that you are aware of everything that could be in your good along with possible cross contamination.


One of the places that has some good vegan options is Olive Garden. When you go there, there will be salad, spaghetti, and minestrone soup. Also, the best part, the breadsticks, happen to be vegan because guess what? Its garlic and oil, not butter! This is great for people who want to avoid dairy because of allergies or health reasons. 

When I go to the restaurant I usually do vinegar on the salad instead of the house dressing. In the picture below I have my leftovers pictured. I added some vegan ranch to the dressing on the salad and you can also add some vegan croutons and cheese. You can break up some Follow Your Heart or Chao cheese slices on your salad if you would like. 

(photos by Danielle)
(photos by Danielle)

(photos by Danielle)

I have also been to Chilis and there is a caribbean salad. If you are avoiding egg you can change the dressing it comes with for another one like the citrus balsamic vinaigrette.

Also, another option at Chili's is to get a bowl. It comes with rice, beans, tomato chunks, salsa, lettuce, onion, corn, and avocado. I will ask them to leave the meat and cheese off. If you want an alternative for meat and cheese, you can always do take out and bring it home to add the vegan meat and cheese. This is delicious and healthy!

(photos by Danielle)
(photos by Danielle)

At Bonefish, I like to order a bowl. They have one on the menu that I order and just ask them to leave the tuna off. It comes with rice, mango salsa, and avocado. You can also order the house salad and there are other vegetables you can get on the side if you want a bigger meal. 

(photos by Danielle)

When eating out, I love going to an Asian restaurant because I find there are always a decent amount of options there. My favorites include avocado, cucumber, and sweet potato rolls. If you are trying to be plant based, you can ask for it without the fish sauce if any of the veggie rolls come with it on. 

(photos by Danielle)

My family also likes to go to On the Border a lot. There is a portobello mushroom bowl and the texture is very meaty from there. It also comes with a cilantro lime rice, black beans, tomatoes, onions, peppers, and avocados. I ask them to leavethe dairy off and its good to go! I also love the chips and salsa from there as well. 

(photos by Danielle)

(photos by Danielle)

What are some plant based meals that you order at chain restaurants? 
-Danielle 

Are You At Your Wit's End?


Quick and Easy Stuffed Artichoke

First, let me apologize for not posting last week but I was literally at my wit's end. What does that even mean? To be at your wit's end means that you are so worried, confused or annoyed that you don't know what to do next. I am sure everyone has felt this way from time to time. Have you ever wondered what to do when you are in this state or where you can turn to that you won't be judged? Many times you feel like you are alone and although you will get through it. It would definitely be easier if you had supportive people around you during the journey.

Could you sit with a group of women and be totally honest?  

Would you feel totally confident that anything you said would not be repeated or discussed outside the group?

 Do you have a place where you can freely speak your mind and not be judged? 

Not many people have this type of outlet but you can have it if you create it.

Two of my very best friends were sitting on a beach a couple of years ago and had just this discussion. There are a lot of recovery programs out there but was none that helps you to recover from the day to day things that life throws at you. This is how W.I.T.S. was formed. The thought was to create it and they will come and they do every Monday evening at 7 PM. No invitation is necessary. 

What does W.I.T.S. mean?  The initials stand for Women In The Solution. This is not an opportunity to complain, it is however an opportunity to share anything you are challenged with. I would not call this a meeting, I would call it a group if I had to categorize it. The ages range from women in their twenties to women in their eighties.  The group size varies depending who shows up, there are regulars, newcomers, some people that come when their schedule permits. I will warn you that this type of group is not for everyone since it is based on trust and honesty and you will find yourself being more open than you ever thought possible.


There is a preamble that is read prior to each  meeting of the group. There is also a topic which is pulled that each woman will share their thoughts or experience about. Shares are typically 2-3 minutes and there is no obligation to share your thoughts if you don't want to. If you have something on your mind that is not related to the topic, that is alright too. Everyone is there to support each other.

If you want more information on how to set this up in your town, please comment and I will ensure you receive the outlines. At some point it would be great to have this type of resource for women all over the country and take what was once an idea on the beach and turn it into a national movement with W.I.T.S. chapters throughout the United States and eventually abroad.

I wanted to share my personal experience, I went a couple of times and confided in my friends who actually started this group that I really didn't feel comfortable sharing things because I thought my issues and struggles were unique. I quickly came to find out that they weren't, we all struggle with the same things from time to time and it is a great feeling to know that you are not alone. It is truly time with the most extraordinary women you ever would want to meet. You will be amazed at the friendships you will forge.

If you have interest in starting a W.I.T.S. chapter in your area, please let me know in the comments section and I will be happy to facilitate getting you started. Sorry guys this is for ladies only however, if anyone wants to pioneer a men's group, that is always an option!

For my recipe this week, I did something very simple. When you are shopping int he supermarket and you pass the artichokes they can look very intimidating however they are much easier to make then you thought.


Stuffed Artichokes

2 Artichokes
1/2 - 1 cup of seasoned breadcrumbs depending on size of the artichokes (if breadcrumbs are not seasoned add your favorite spices, basil, oregano,garlic powder etc)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

First I washed and cut the stems and tops off the artichokes. If you notice the leaves and sharp on the edges so I took a scissor and snipped the top off each of the leaves. I then pulled the artichoke open to give me plenty of room for the stuffing. You can get elaborate with your stuffing but for this
recipe I kept it basic.






 Saute the breadcrumbs in the olive oil adding oil until it is the consistency of damp sand. I stuff the leaves with the mixture and then place in a pot to steam the artichokes until tender.






When they are done you can just pull the leaves off . To quote my husband" it seems like a lot of effort for nothing". That being said I love them!



For those of you that may not be familiar with how to eat an artichoke:

They can be served either hot or cold
To eat, pull the petals off one at a time pulling the bottom of the petal through your teeth to get the stuffing and pulpy art of the petal
Discard the remaining portion of the petal
Discard the fuzzy center at the base to uncover the heart of the artichoke, this part is entirely edible.

Hope you enjoy!

With Gratitude,

Trudy







My 4 Favorite YouTube Channels for Yoga!


My 4 Favorite YouTube Channels for Yoga!

People are always shocked when I say pretty much everything I have learned about yoga has been through YouTube. While I would love to be able to go to more classes in actual studios, they are just too expensive for me right now. That is why the internet has been so helpful in allowing me to enjoy my passion for yoga. YouTube yoga videos are almost as nice as studio classes, and they are free! All you need is a yoga mat, or even just a nice carpet, and your phone/laptop/ipad. I have been doing online yoga for a couple years now, and I have narrowed down my favorite channels to these four:






Allie has amazing follow-along Yoga videos that are appropriate for all levels. There are great flows for begginers, advanced yogis, and everyone in-between. She also has some challenges such as a 30-Day Pose Challenge, Chakra Challenge, and Yoga Body Bootcamp. These are perfect for people who have trouble staying motivated because challenges can make things more fun!




Brett is another online teacher who posts a wide-range of yoga videos. I swear she has every kind of video you could imagine! There is yoga for kidney stones, back pain, shoulders, prenatal, jet lag, etc. Some of my favorites are her Full Body Detox Flow, the Morning Yoga Routine: Advanced Strengthen and Flow, Yoga to Release Anger, Frustration & Stress in 10 Min. If you have any specific body parts you want to work, give Brett’s channel a search because I am sure you will find the video for you!




 

2) Alo Yoga

 

This channel is newer than the others but they have been posting a ton of videos from a variety of well-known yoga teachers! The great thing about having so many different teachers is that they each have a unique style. For people looking to advance their yoga practice, it is essential to learn from new teachers instead of staying in your comfort zone. Also, this is the only channel I am mentioning in this post that includes male teachers! Male yoga teachers are not as common on YouTube as female teachers. So, definitely check out Alo Yoga if you are interested in male teachers.



 

1)    Boho Beautiful

Ahhh my absolute favorite channel is Boho Beautiful! Juliana and Mark are the sweetest people you can imagine. They travel all around the world and film their yoga videos from crazy locations from elephant sanctuaries in Thailand, to the snowy mountains of Canada, to the sandy beaches of Costa Rica. Juliana’s voice is extremely relaxing yet her flows are pretty fast-paced; I like this because it keeps me interested and I feel like I am breaking a sweat! While most of the flows are quite intermediate to advanced, there are also some slower beginner flows that are just as great! If you have not checked out this channel yet, go try one of the flows right now! J

 

 

            I hope you all have enjoyed this post and give these videos a try. Let me know your favorite channels in the comments below!

            See you next time,

Karlee



Practice What You Preach


I have a long running interest in health and nutrition. I work in a hospital and have done for a number of years; I've often been shocked, and even appalled at the food that patients are fed. When my daughter was a patient, one of her doctors once marched down to the kitchen and gave them heck, and made them prepare a good “kid” meal for her. I've been taking nutrition courses since last August. I know a lot about vitamins, minerals, carbs, proteins, fat. I know a lot about the various effects certain toxins, including alcohol and cigarettes have on the body. I read a lot of articles about food. I google a lot of stuff about food. I collect recipe books.

I rarely use my recipe books. I frequently come home from work and eat a bowl of cereal, or my all time favourite – a bowl of chips and salsa. I'll just pick at food. I'm tired, I've worked all day, I've prepared food for my family and it really seems like just too much effort to make myself something nutritious. I'm the only vegan in my house, and the only one who will eat the meals I eat – OK that's not entirely true, but my kids sure won't eat what I would. So I make them food (or if I'm really tired I don't) and then out comes the cereal bowl.


The other day I was reading something about how if we treated ourselves as well as we treat others we'd be a lot further ahead. I wouldn't ever pour my daughter a bowl of cereal for supper – or tell her to have chips and salsa. I encourage her to eat and I try to find her foods that she likes (hard with teenagers – they have a small food repertoire!). I treat myself more poorly than I do anyone else in my life. I talk the talk, but I don't walk the walk. When I'm really tired I'll stuff myself full of as much sugar as I can get my hands on and then sit and feel horrible for hours. It's very easy to make poor food choices when one isn't prepared.

I have no excuses. I own a kitchen, and in that kitchen there is a food processor, a crock pot, an InstandPot, and various other tools to help me make a good, nutritious meal. I spend a lot of time looking at my cook books (I sure love the pretty pictures) and thinking about all the nutritious meals I could (should) be making. And then every so often I'll go buy a bunch of groceries and actually make something. And it's good! And I'm so proud of myself! Then, when it's gone I go back to my cereal.


Really, what it comes down to is how important am I to me? Am I willing to expend the energy and the time to look after myself? And if I'm not, then why is that? Why do I put all of life's other challenges first? Why do I think that it's OK to not look after my own needs (says every mother ever!). But I don't have the excuse of motherhood – not really; my kids are twenty-one and seventeen, so I don't have any toddlers to run after all day. It's a vicious circle really. I'm tired, so I don't eat properly, but when I do eat properly I feel so much better. It ain't rocket science people!

I'm going to get out my cookbooks this weekend and see what I can do. I'm always in awe of those people who cook from scratch and make wholesome meals most of the time. I don't really enjoy cooking, so that's probably part of it, but everything is so much better when you eat well. A well nourished body can handle the physical and the mental stuff with strength and clarity. The meals don't have to be involved or difficult; healthy food can be easily prepared. Cereal doesn't cut it (at least not most of the time).

So look after yourselves people! You're of no use to anyone, particularly yourself, if you're run down and eating poorly. Treat yourself the way you would treat somebody you love – somebody who is important to you. Treat yourself like you're the most important person in your life; because you are.

Gwen

Delicious Foods from Whole Foods (Part 1)


(photo by Danielle)


When shopping at Whole Foods, I find some delicious foods. Sometimes it can be expensive but I combat that by buying things on sale and coming prepared with coupons. However, don't forget to treat yourself when you go in!

Late July tortilla chips and salsa are one of the foods I usually pick up since it is usually a good deal. I also got some 365 chips for my family since I am not big on foods like these but I like to try them on occasion. 

I picked up some milk alternatives and a creamer. I love picking up a variety of alternatives because it switches it up. I picked up some SO Delicious Coconut milk and some vanilla cashew milk by the brand Pacific.


I also got a vegan cheese sauce/dip from the Brand Heidi Ho. I used this on some nachos and it was absolutely delicious. 

I bought some delicious store brand food like the potato and pea samosas and pearled couscous. 

I also got some chocolate and berry flavored Made Good bars and bites. These are one of my favorite brands because they have a serving of vegetables in them (that you cant even taste). Some of these taste just like rice crispies.


The next thing I got was the carrot ginger soup from the brand Pacific. 

The last item I got was the gardein barbeque wings. 

Have any of you tried these products or ones similar? Let me know what you think!

-Danielle

In Defense of the Flexitarian



The term "flexitarian" isn't all that common in the dietary world, but it does have a certain meaning and people who use the label are often looked down on by "real" vegans and vegetarians. I think it's a shame and that people should be more accepting of the choices others make, especially when they are headed in the right direction.

Maybe we should be more accepting of people who
label themselves as flexitarian

A flexitarian is someone who moves between a standard omni diet and a vegan one, more or less. Basically, someone who considers their dietary commitment to be somewhat flexible. To many vegans, that just means they are omnivores who are trying to put a pretty face on it. That the new label is a way to make themselves feel better about eating animal products. Like they are being pretend vegans. I disagree (mostly). So I thought I would share my opinions on the flexitarian.


I will admit that someone who eats meat, eggs or dairy 6 days a week should accept that they are omnivores and stop trying to fool themselves. This is not really what a flexitarian is all about. But on the other hand, what about someone who eats plant-based-only most of the time, and only occasionally has a little meat or dairy? People who are making a conscious choice to eat vegan as best they can given their circumstances but aren't quite there yet. Perhaps due to a lack of family support, financial constraints, medical reasons or just a level of will-power still developing.

Too many see veganism as a level of absolutes. All animal products are bad, and so there are no shades of gray in the equation. All or nothing. Well, very little in life ever meets up to that level of thinking and it just leads to frustration for some people. In an ideal world, of course someone who is concerned about animal welfare would happily and easily cut out every single animal product without hesitation and never look back. Good luck with that.


I would rather see someone do their best to give up half their meat consumption and stop drinking milk (for example), than make no changes at all. What counts is that people are making a deliberate effort to reduce their use of animal products even if it's not at a level of perfection (yet). Every small change represents a smaller demand for animal products, and that means some good has come of it. Even something as tiny as switching your dairy milk to a non-dairy alternative, and nothing else. It all matters.

So don't think of a flexitarian as a fake vegan. They're more like vegans-in-training and deserve support and encouragement. As long as people, whether they identify as flexitarians or not, are trying to cut down on their consumption of any animal products, it's a good thing.